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Detention of Immigrants Essay


Introduction

This paper aims at analyzing the plight of refugees in various detention camps in the US, and Australia. It is factual that refugees go through difficulties in the camps since immigration officials harass them to accept illegal pacts and raw deals (Bagshaw & Paul 2004, p. 41).

Immigration officials force refugees to accept their pleas such as extending sexual favors. Some immigrants report that immigration officials are unwelcoming and use unacceptable language when addressing them. This paper aims at uncovering the injustices meted out to refugees in the US and Australia.

The main purpose of the paper is to expose the injustices that refugees face in their daily lives. In society, each person has the right to exercise his or her freedom. Detention facilities interfere with the rights of detainees because they force them to support illegal deals in the detention facilities.

The detention facilities should support refugees emotionally while they solve their problems through legal means. However, the detention facilities go against the acceptable codes of conduct by taking advantage of the plight of refugees. Through this paper, the world will appreciate the fact that refugees have a right, just like other citizens.

Background

Immigrants face a number of challenges in the United States and Australia. Australia and the US are two countries preferred by refugees who run away from political and economic hardships (Cohen 2004, p. 467). Refugees fleeing to the US and Australia are mostly Africans who believe that economic conditions would favor them there. The two countries face serious challenges in ensuring that their borders are safe. On the other hand, the countries are expected to assist refugees in need of commodities such as food, water, shelter, and security.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees is an agency that was created to help displaced individuals in the third world and other parts of the world. In 1951, there were an approximated 1.5 billion refugees in the world. The figure went up in 2009 to 43.3 billion, including approximated 15.2 billion displaced individuals, 983000 refuge seekers, and 27.1 internally displaced people. People run away from their homes due to natural disasters, political insecurity, and harsh economic conditions.

Current studies show that at least five factors encourage people to run away from their home countries to either Australia or the US. In Europe and Africa, individuals migrate to the two countries because of wage differences between the home countries and the two foreign countries.

These factors are commonly referred to as the pull factors because they attract people to migrate to the US or Australia. The US and Australia have experienced retarded growth implying in population to an extent that the two countries do not have sufficient labor. Hiking salaries and wages is one of the strategies employed to attract the global labor force (Evans 2007, p. 73).

Another factor that forces people to move to greener pastures is the population growth in the home country. Some countries have witnessed a massive population growth in the recent past, which forces individuals to look for space elsewhere. The US and Australia are preferred because the standards of living are better in the two countries.

This factor falls under the push factors because it puts pressure on an individual to move (Cernea 2006, p. 76). In the last twenty to thirty years, some countries have been forced to come up with policies aimed at discouraging population growth due to strained resources. China and India are some of the countries that discourage population growth because the government is unable to provide adequate services to the larger population.

In such countries, individuals prefer shifting to foreign countries perceived to be having favorable conditions of living. The US and Australia are the first destinations for individuals. As people shift to Australia and the US, many are encouraged to do so after noticing that their friends and relatives do well in the foreign countries. However, they do not understand that foreigners are exposed to torture and unfair treatment in the detention facilities.

Statistics show that about sixty percent of those migrating to the US and Australia are men while only forty percent are female. Seventy percent of immigrants are adults while twenty percent are children. This shows that people migrate to these two countries in search of jobs and business opportunities owing to the population pressure at home countries. In the detention facilities, young men are the majority implying that the types of abuses are mostly related to violation of employment acts (Kälin 2006, p. 19).

Issue Development

Local Reaction

A report by the American Civil Liberties Union observed that immigrants are subjected to unfair treatment in the detention facilities in Georgia. The organization undertook a study on four main detention facilities in the US.

One of the detention facilities was Stewart Detention Center, which is one of the largest detention facilities in the US. The organization claimed that the facility violates immigration policies yet the government is reluctant to act. Immigrants are housed in a prisonlike facility whereby their human and civil rights are not provided.

Through the report, the officials of Georgia came up with strict immigration policies that would allow the security forces to conduct frequent assessment of the detention facilities. The security agencies would question immigrants regarding their living conditions in the detention facilities. The government has so far enacted policies allowing the department of homeland security to deport illegal immigrants.

Illegal immigrants are victims of unfair treatment in the detention facilities. Private organizations operate substantial detention facilities in the US. The human rights groups have urged the government to deregister the private organizations operating the detention facilities on grounds of abuse. The civil groups argue that most of the detention facilities are in the remote areas and the facilities are of poor quality (Kälin 2000, p. 99).

The American Civil Liberties Union conducted an extensive research that lasted for three years, managing to interview sixty-eight detainees and a sizeable number of relatives and friends. The study established that detainees face serious problems because their rights are violated. They are subjected to poor sanitation, inadequate medical attention, inappropriate mental healthcare, and instances of verbal abuse. It is established that those in authority use their power to exploit detainees in the camp.

Some detainees claimed that officials used vulgar language and racial discrimination was rampant in the facilities. Some detainees are even subjected to physical violence, which is a violation of the right to life. At the Stewart detention facility, one detainee reported that a guard assaulted him one evening and injured him seriously. The detainee lost both eyes, but the officials of the detention facility are yet to take action against the guard (Lilly 2007, p. 101).

Each person is entitled to free medical care, but detainees at Australian detention facilities are never allowed to undergo regular medical checkups. Detention facilities in the US rarely employ a doctor who would attend to emergencies at night.

In government operated detention facilities, a doctor is usually provided, but medical facilities are not enough to cater for the medical needs of all detainees. In an interview with one female detainee, the report by the civil liberties groups claimed that the woman was left to suffer for hours before being taken to hospital.

Even after identifying that the woman needed urgent medical care, the officials were reluctant to act deviously to prevent unnecessary suffering and pain. In the American detention camps, the mental status of individuals is never taken into consideration because a psychiatrist is never provided to interrogate the detainees.

Immigrants are people with various problems since some might have lost their properties before deciding to seek refuge in the foreign countries. It is logical to take such individuals through frequent mental checkups to prevent cases of mental illness and psychological trauma. However, the detention facilities in the US are reluctant to help immigrants in recovering from mental stress (Mooney 2003, p. 6).

Just like in the US, detention facilities in Australia force immigrants to sign orders of removal that permit banishment without due process. Officials threaten detainees with severe punishment in case they fail to sign orders of removal. In Australia, detention facilities violate the rights of detainees because they fail to release them even after the orders of removal are ready.

Some detainees are segregated for refusing to cooperate with officials at the detention camps. Detainees found leaking information to the media are punished severely. Detainees face a serious challenge regarding communication. The detention facilities do not provide interpreters who would help them in understanding instructions.

Human and civil groups have pressurized the government to come up with laws that would guarantee the safety of individuals at the detention camps. The American Civil Liberties Union demands that the government should take over the responsibility of taking care of detainees while their cases are handled by the courts. The union demands that private organizations should not be given the chance of harboring detainees (Mooney & Jarrah 2004, p. 18).

International Reaction

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has been vocal in protecting the rights of detainees in the US and Australia. The commission argues that states should protect refugees. However, the commission has been keen on ensuring that immigrants are not subjected to unfair treatment. The agency intervenes through application of international laws and standards (Balikci 2004, p. 67).

One of the laws invoked whenever there is a conflict is the 1951 convention, which talks about the status of refugees. The 1951 law states that a refugee is someone with various problems because he or she is outside his or her country. Therefore, the foreign country should always ensure that such an individual is treated in a humane way. In this regard, the detention facilities in Australia and the US are compelled to provide basic needs to detainees.

The agency has always urged the detention facilities to ensure that immigrants are given adequate medical attention. The 1967 protocol is another law that relates to the status of refugees. The 1967 law demands that refugees should not be forced to return to their home countries because doing so would be endangering their lives (Sohne 2006, p. 21). The law demands further that the receiving countries must cooperate with the agency in ensuring that refugees enjoy their rights.

This shows that refugees have a number of rights contained in the 1967 law. Stewart detention camp is frequently urged to respect the 1967 law by providing medical care to detainees. In fact, article II of the 1967 law demands that detention facilities must cooperate with the agency in ensuring that refugee laws are followed. In 1984, a principle of non-refoulement was enacted, which reinforced the 1951 law on forceful deportation (Weiss 2003, p. 21).

Through the agency, detention facilities have been forced to comply in order to avoid international condemnation. This is the reason why detainees are subjected to pain and suffering whenever they are found discussing their plight with the media. The agency works closely with the hosting countries to ensure that detainees are not subjected to untold suffering (Stavropoulou 1998, p. 34). However, the agency should strengthen its surveillance capacity to ensure that private organizations such as Stewart in the US comply with the law.

Conclusion

Detainees in the US and Australia go through a number of challenges. However, international organizations such as the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and local civil groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union have played a critical role in ensuring that detainees are treated fairly.

In the US, civil rights groups have gone a notch higher to interview detainees in order to find a solution to their problem. Australian civil groups are yet to take action. However, the activities of the local and international institutions have not been successful given the fact that the issue of immigration is considered high politics.

List of References

Bagshaw, S & Paul, D 2004, Protect or Neglect Toward a More Effective United Nations Approach to the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons, Brookings-SAIS Project on Internal Displacement, Washington.

Balikci, A 2004, IDPs in Baku: A Qualitative Approach,’ Report prepared for World Bank, Canada, University of Montreal.

Cernea, M 2006, “Development-induced and conflict-induced IDPs: bridging the research divide”, Forced Migration Review Special Issue, Vol. 3, no. 3, pp 76-89

Cohen, R 2004, “The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: An Innovation in International Standard Setting” Global Governance, Vol. 10, no. 1, pp 466-510

Evans, M 2007, “The Suffering is Too Great: Urban Internally Displaced Persons in the Casamance Conflict, Senegal”, Journal of Refugee Studies, Vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 60-85.

Kälin, W 2000 “Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: Annotations”, Studies in Transnational Legal Policy, Vol. 1, no. 32, pp. 98-105

Kälin, W 2006 “The future of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement,” Forced Migration Review Special Issue, Vol. 2, no. 3, pp 19-54.

Lilly, D 2007, Camp management in IDP Collective Centers: The development of best practice, London, Camp Coordination Camp Management.

Mooney, E & Jarrah, B 2004, The Voting Rights of Internally Displaced Persons: The OSCE Region, Brookings Institution, Washington.

Mooney, E 2003 “Introduction,” Forced Migration Review, Vol. 17, no. 4, pp 5-6.

Sohne, SI 2006, Coping with Displacement: The Case of Internally Displaced Persons in Jinja, Uganda, The Fletcher School, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy Thesis.

Stavropoulou, M 1998, “Will Peru’s displaced return? The forsaken people: Case studies of the internally displaced, The Brookings Institution, Washington.

Weiss, FP 2003, “Looking beyond emergency response,” Forced Migration Review, Vol. 17, no. 3, pp 19-20.

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